Pay for parking with a tap of your smartphone

Honk Marketing Director Rachel Lemkow looks on as London Mayor Ed Holder uses the new HonkTAP to pay for parking, July 11, 2019. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News.)

Paying for parking in London just got even easier.

Two years after the Honk app arrived in the Forest City, the Toronto-based parking payment start-up has launched HonkTAP for all municipal on and off street parking.

The new technology allows drivers to simply tap their smartphone on designated near-field communication (NFC) technology enabled signs to pay for parking and walk away.

“The app has been around this city for two years, but there is still a majority of people who go to the parking meter so we wanted to come up with a solution that addresses these people and that is HonkTAP,” said Michael Back, Honk founder and CEO. “It works with any phone, there is nothing to download, it has all of the functionality of a parking meter without any of the capital expense and all the usability of an app without having to download and register.”

Honk founder and CEO Michael Back. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News.)

Honk founder and CEO Michael Back

Back, a Western University graduate, said HonkTAP is especially useful for visitors to the city.

“An app really talks to the most frequent of users. So if you live here, you work here the app download is great. But if you are an infrequent visitor, you live outside the city and are only here every now and again, this lets you pay for parking without the hassle of waiting in lines or digging for change,” said Back.

London is the first city in North America to introduce the new parking payment option. The NFC-enabled signage was installed on every digital and coin-operated parking meter in the city over the past couple of weeks.

Once a driver taps their phone, a checkout page pops up where they can enter their licence plate number and select a payment option. HonkTAP accepts Apple Pay, Pay Pal, and all major credit cards. Drivers are also given the option to opt-in to receive text notifications about when their parking is due to expire and can remotely add more time to the parking meter.

Mayor Ed Holder got a crash course on using the new technology at the official HonkTAP launch on Thursday at the municipal parking lot at 641 Queens Avenue. He was quick to praise it for its user-friendly design.

“If Ed Holder, former minister of science and technology, can do this believe me anyone can do it,” Holder said. “It took one example. I had the marketing manager for Honk show me how it was done. But just to be sure the CEO for Honk used his phone [to show me] as well. So I actually had two little tests but I got it after the first one.”

Holder believes Honk selected the city as its test market for the tap technology because of the willingness of Londoners to go outside of their comfort zones.

“London is a great test market. We test market so many things. We are the home of testing for the dark roast coffee for Tim Hortons, we were the test market for McDonald’s when they launched the “happy meal”… It is because we are such good people and people that don’t mind trying different things, so it became an easy place for Honk to decide this is where they are going to put their first market in,” said Holder.

Those will older model cell phones can also take advantage of the HonkTAP option by scanning a QR code on the NFC-enabled signage with their phone’s camera.

Roughly 30,000 people in London already use the Honk app to pay for municipal parking.